Video conferencing continues to rise in popularity, but how do you go about choosing a video solution? As with any tech investment, you don't want to rush in and it's important to make sure your choice stands the test of time. So how do you ensure you get the most bang for your buck, navigate the common misconceptions, and avoid those pitfalls?
1) Issue: Just because an application is free to download, it doesn't mean that anyone can enter a video call on it for free. Although many vendors offer free mobile video conferencing apps in the iTunes and Google Play stores, they don't allow immediate startup – users often have to undergo a complex setup and licensing process, even for casual or one-time-only users.
Top Tip: Choose a video solution that is both freely distributable and does not require a user-specific license key.
2) Issue: If users can't easily join a call, they may not join at all. Many vendors' solutions require downloads, complex licensing and registration – and often the support of a local IT team to assist. In addition, some video solutions require separate audio or video hardware – an expensive proposition at best.
Top Tip: Choose a video solution that offers a click/call setup – and make sure it leverages your current device audio/video
3) Issue: The benefits of video conferencing have to be available to all, not just a select few. A number of mobile and desktop apps offered today are based on proprietary technologies. Only standards-based solutions enable users to connect to other vendors' standards-based systems (unless you add gateways and get a little creative). Proprietary solutions limit connectivity to others, and gateways can add latency and produce a lower quality experience.
Top Tip: Choose only open-standards-based video solutions
4) Issue: If employees can't take advantage of audio, video and data-sharing, it's not really collaboration. It's important to select a solution that enables users to join by audio, video and share content – and ensures all three are available on any device, whether the employee is in a conference room, at their desk or on the go. If any of these three components isn't available, the quality of the experience is limited and collaboration is compromised.
Top Tip: Select only solutions that allow audio, video, and content sharing to ensure a full user experience.
5) Issue: How can organisations ensure they're taking advantage of the latest technologies – and future-proof their investment? The latest technologies don't matter if the solution doesn't leverage them. For instance, protocols such as H.264 SVC help to deliver a great video experience even over "lossy" networks. And it's important to ensure that the solution is able to support calls over the public internet as well as private networks.
Top Tip: Find a solution that will ensure that the call quality remains as good as possible regardless of bandwidth availability and changes in bandwidth during a call.
6) Issue: It's not cloud-based just because it has the word "cloud" in its name. There are viable solutions offered in the market for companies that don't wish to invest extensively in any systems, by trusted service providers.
Top Tip: Make sure you are investing in a proven video solution.
Simon Culmer is managing director, UK and Ireland, at Avaya. He is responsible for ensuring that Avaya's global strategy is executed in the region and that Avaya's commitment to support its channel partners and customers is maintained at a local level. He has nearly 30 years' experience in IT sales and management.